Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holding Europe to the Standard Set for Israel Part Two (A Focus on Norway)


There is probably nowhere in the world where the original inhabitants have remained put since time immemorial. The Scandinavian countries are not an exception to this general rule. In the north of Sweden, Norway, Russia and Finland is an ethnic minority that predates the arrival of the majority population by centuries.

This group is scattered across the north of Scandinavia, inhabiting a region known as Sapmi. Due in good part to forced assimilation, the number of Sapmi speakers has dwindled to between 80,000 and 150,000. They are most commonly known as Lapps or Laplanders, although this is considered a derogatory term. "Sami: is the acceptable term for this ethnic group.

The origins of the Sami are a mystery. DNA evidence suggests a link to Basques and Catalonians. Their language itself is however of the Finno Vogaic family.

The most common association with Sami people is reindeer herding. This is not without basis in fact. Today about 10% of Sami are involved in reindeer herding, although jobs in fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding are far more common.

The criteria for Sami identity are nebulous. The Norwegian government recognises anyone with one Sami speaking great grand parent. Customs, familial ties and regional loyalty are also defining factors in the absence of fluency in the Sami language.

Sami faced an uphill battle in their effort to retain their identity. Social marginalisation as well as an educational system that stressed the value of assimilation took a heavy toll on their numbers and their cohesion. Additionally the Russians deported the Russian Samis from their traditional homes to a collective farm which was considered to be less of a security risk.

In keeping with the belief set forth in my previous article, the Sami people have a right to their own homeland. It is urgent that Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia convene a regional conference concerning the Sami. This conference should deal with territorial concessions by each of the countries occupying the ancestral homeland of the Sami people. Additionally, the issue of compensation for cultural and economic disposession over the centuries must be considered, as well as the repatiation of any non Samis occupying Sami territory.

Since Norway contains over half of all the Sami people, it is fitting that the conference concerning Sami self determination should be held in Oslo, Norway. The agreement concerning the Sami homeland should be known as the Oslo Accords.

The miscarriage of justice that has resulted in the illegal occupation of Sami lands must be redressed. Justice delayed is justice denied! Self determination for the Sami People !! End the occupation now!!

The following is the English translation of the Sami National Anthem

Words To Sami National Anthem in the Sami Language

English Translation
by Ragnar Müller-Wille and Rauna Kuokkanen

The Song of the Sami Family

Far up North 'neath Ursa Major
Gently rises Saamiland.
Mountain upon mountain.
Lake upon lake.
Peaks, ridges and plateaus
Rising up to the skies.
Gurgling rivers, sighing forests.
Iron capes pointing sharp
Out towards the stormy sea.

Winter time with storm and cold
Fierce blizzards.
Saami kin, with hearts and souls
Their lands do love.
Moonlight for the traveller,
Living Aurora flickering,
Grunt of reindeer heard in groves of birch,
Voices over lakes and open grounds,
Swish of sled on winter road.

Summer's sun casts golden hues
On forests, seas and shores.
Fishermen in gold, swaying
With the golden seas, golden lakes.
Silver Saami rivers gurgling
'round sparkling poles, shining oars.
Singing, men float down
Rapids, great and small,
And waters calm.

Saamiland's people
With unbending strength
Defeated killing enemies, bad trades,
Sly and evil thieves.
Hail thee, tough Saami kin!
Hail thee, root of freedom!
Never was there battle,
Never brother's blood was spilt
Amongst the peaceful Saami kin.

Our ancestors long ago
Trouble makers did defeat.
Let us, brothers, also resist
Staunchly our oppressors.
Oh, tough kin of the sun’s sons,
Never shall you he subdued
If you heed your golden Saami tongue,
Remember the ancestors' word.
Saamiland for Saami!

P.S. I think the world should reward the Sami people for their patience. There are no Sami terrorists and no Sami suicide bombers. They are a nation without a country that has been peaceful good neighbours. They deserve our thanks.

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